Shak­ing in my shoes

Let's Travel - - AUSTRALIA -

It’s 11pm and six of us are hud­dled on the stairs of the Com­man­dant’s House in Port Arthur His­toric Site. We’re the only ones left in the for­mer con­vict set­tle­ment – the day trip­pers de­parted hours ago and we passed the last of the ghost tours on our way in. A milky glow from a weak moon fil­ters through a dis­tant win­dow as our torches make shad­ows dance around the hall­way. Cait­lan, one of our guides, turns on a sound recorder, clears her throat and in a calm, even voice says, “Is there any­one there?” A deathly si­lence en­gulfs the room. “Can any­one hear me? Touch one of us if you can hear me.”

She’s hold­ing a Zoom H4n, a sen­si­tive por­ta­ble sound recorder, which right now I’m sure must be pick­ing up the voice in my head that’s scream­ing “PLEASE DON’T TOUCH ME!!!”

I’m on a ghost hunt, or to give the tour its proper name, a Para­nor­mal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s the brain­child of Cait­lan and Mel, two Port Arthur guides who hope to col­lect sci­en­tific data to backup the fold­ers of anec­do­tal ev­i­dence about para­nor­mal ac­tiv­ity at the site.

Our evening be­gins with a brief­ing in the lu­natic asy­lum. Mel flips open a Men In Black-style suit­case to re­veal the gad­gets we’ll have at our dis­posal. In ad­di­tion to the Zoom H4n, there’s a KII me­ter for mea­sur­ing elec­tro­mag­netic fields, an in­stru­ment for mea­sur­ing tem­per­a­ture and pres­sure fluc­tu­a­tions and a video cam­era that’s been adapted to cap­ture infrared light.

Writ­ten ev­i­dence of un­ex­plained hap­pen­ings at Port Arthur dates back to 1870. Phe­nom­ena range from dis­em­bod­ied voices to poltergeist move­ment to peo­ple be­ing phys­i­cally at­tacked. Mel and Cait­lan have both had sev­eral un­nerv­ing en­coun­ters yet re­main re­mark­ably scep­ti­cal.

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